The Problem with Anarchism

Ben Cohen
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Noam Chomsky on today's anarchist movements:

Today's anarchism in the United States, as far as I can see, is extremely scattered, highly sectarian, so each particular group is spending a great deal of his time attacking some other tendency -- sometimes doing useful, important things, but it's extremely hard to -- . I think what is -- this is not just true of people who think of themselves as anarchists, but of the entire activist left. Count noses. There's plenty of people, I mean, more than there were at any time in the past that I can think of, except for maybe, you know, tiny, ["pyoosh"], very brief moment late '60s, or CIO organizing in the ' 30s, and things like that. But there are people interested in all sorts of things. You know, you walk down the main corridor at this university, you see, you know, desks of students, very active, very engaged, lots of great issues, but highly fragmented. There's very little coordination. There's a tremendous amount of sectarianism and intolerance, mutual intolerance, insistence on, you know, my particular choice as to what priorities ought to be, and so on.

Anarchism is a political philosophy much misunderstood and belittled by mainstream thought. Anarchism isn't about people running riot in a free for all, but a school of thought that decries concentrated power and aims to give control of corporate and political institutions back to the people. If I were to catagorize my own political ideals, I'd say it was something close to social anarchism - a people based society with some sort of democratized economy (where people had control over their working life as opposed to being dictated to by their bosses) and one without an overbearing government. Of course, this is pie in the sky talk given the current climate, and I'd gladly take a corporate Democrat over a corporate Republican. But Anarchism (at least as defined by people like Chomsky) is immensely appealing if you take the time to look at its history and some of its ideals. Like any movement, it's highly fractured and there is much disagreement within it, but the notion that people should have some control over their lives and shouldn't be subjected to the whims of corporate capitalism isn't such a bad idea.