“We’re All Anarchists Now”
by Joel Bowman
TUESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2012
“Long has man understood the definition of slavery. And long has he continued to practice it, ignoring and even mocking decent folks’ cries for its abolition. It’s time for something new.
Were he still alive, Leo Tolstoy, a self-described “spiritualist anarchist,” would be 184 years old today. The world of 2012 could learn a lot from this towering, 19th Century intellectual. For one thing, Tolstoy understood well the anarchist attitude of “live and let live,” and he spent a good many words railing against The State and its brutal, oppressive nature.
Tolstoy’s ideas on civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as “The Kingdom of God Is Within You”, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He saw government for what it really is, “an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.” At heart, Tolstoy was a lover, not a hater. In his most famous work, “War and Peace”, he wrote: “Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.”
This is not the kind of “warm and fuzzy” sentiment one might expect from an anarchist, at least not given the currently and widely misunderstood definition of the word. The term “anarchist,” for the average voter, is a pejorative used to describe jackbooted hooligans rampaging through the streets, hurling Molotov cocktails through Starbucks windows and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
In point of fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The word has been hijacked and, in accordance with the Newspeak of our time, has come to mean the exact opposite of that for which what it stands. This is a convenient confounding of the definition, one that serves directly the goals of The State, the brutish institution that presides over the enslavement of individuals within a given border and, not infrequently, declares wars against those living within foreign borders.
Properly understood, the term anarchy, which derives from the Greek anarchia, literally translates an, “without” + arkhos, “ruler.” Freedom from being owned…enslaved…forced against one’s will. Freedom to act voluntarily. Freedom to associate with whomever one so desires and under whatever conditions he or she sees fit…provided they do not diminish the ability of another to enjoy the same freedom.