Anarchy is order. At least, this is what anarchist philosophy proposes to bring through direct democracy.
The mainstream portrayal of anarchy is a state of dystopian chaos, but anyone who looks beyond the dictionary definition of anarchy can see this portrayal is a complete misrepresentation.
Anarchism is a broad political ideology with myriad schools of thought within it, but there are core similarities that are fundamental to all branches of Anarchism.
The most widely known symbol of anarchy is the Circle-A.
The A in the symbol stands for Anarchy. The O in the Symbol stands for Order.
Together the Circle-A represents, “Society seeks order in anarchy.”
To make a complex ideology as succinct as possible, anarchists oppose hierarchy, authority, and oppression in pursuit of direct democracy.
Direct democracy is a bottom-up approach to democracy without government intervention, in opposition to the top-down approach of representative democracy.
The question of anarchism IS NOT: “What are the best rules for everyone to abide by?”
The question anarchy brings is: “What hindrances stand in our way of direct democracy, individual freedom, and equal rights?”
Just vs Unjust Authority
Anarchists believe no individual should have power over another unless the action is proven just.
An example of just authority would be a parent stopping their child from crossing a busy street.
A light example of unjust authority would be a police officer ticketing an individual for crossing a perfectly safe street.
The similar action taken in these two scenarios is the attempt to stop the individual from crossing the street. The difference here is the intention and circumstance behind the authority that differentiates the actions as just and unjust.
The action of the parent is considered a just portrayal of authority because the intention of the parent is to protect their child. The action of the police officer is considered an unjust abuse of power because there was no reason the individual could not safely cross the clear street and the intention was clearly not on safety.
Unfortunately, the intention of authorities is not taken into account or recognized in court.
Authority is not self-justifying. Authority should be proven just in order to be considered legitimate. If authority is not able to prove itself beneficial to the individual or circumstance, it should be dismantled and replaced by an egalitarian structure.
As a universal default in anarchism, rather than attempting to weed out unjust forms of authority, all authority is considered illegitimate unless proven otherwise.
The actions taken by anarchists in opposition to unjust authority are taken through direct action and civil disobedience.
Direct Action and Civil Disobedience
Direct action is an action taken toward a solution regardless of legal status. It is taking necessary action for the benefit of the situation as if you are already free to do so.
Civil Disobedience is a nonviolent form of activism that actively refuses to obey laws, demands, and orders of authority as an act of protest.
Gandhi was a prime example of the impact of direct action as he led the Salt March in India through nonviolent civil disobedience as a movement against the British Salt Monopoly. It was through civil disobedience and direct action, Gandhi led India into independence from Britain in 1947.
Decentralization of Power
Anarchists believe in the decentralization of power from a vertical hierarchical structure into a horizontal hierarchical structure.
Vertical hierarchical structures are the systems we have been indoctrinated into as the perceived normal.
Horizontal hierarchical structures aim to decentralize authority and disperse it directly into the hands of the people, in turn, creating a direct democracy.
Anarchy does not get rid of personal authority, but rather dismantles unjust institutional authority’s power over other people.
Personal authority is an authority established by people within the community, from a bottom-up approach, through the process of direct democracy.
Institutional authority is an authority established by the virtue of a position within a vertical hierarchy.
Through anarchy, the institutional authority if not proven just would be replaced by an egalitarian structure.
The Western political system we currently have in place gives the people a very limited choice between a select few rulers. At most, our minuscule vote goes toward corporation funded rulers and we have virtually no say in the laws they establish.
I think it is safe to say we are in desperate need of a new political structure.
As opposed to the mainstream outlook on anarchy, the primary objective of anarchy is to decentralize authority, into the hands of the individuals, in pursuit of direct democracy.
Throughout history, anarchists have brought radical change for the benefit of our human rights and will continue to do so.
As anarchists, through direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience, we can create the change we wish to see in the world.