In talking to a friend a few days ago, I was asked to honestly label my political outlook. My friend was arguing that I was not a true anarchist because I do not avoid our current political system and I do not normally tell people that I am an anarchist – choosing the term “libertarian” instead.
So, to explain myself, I thought for a moment and instead of answering those accusations (which had been delivered without malice), I called myself a “Practical Anarchist.” Of course, that required further explanation.
The Core of Anarchy
To start with, we have to be honest about what anarchy really is. Anarchy in a broad political sense is the absence of formal, authoritarian government. Since all government is, in the end, authoritarian, this means the absence of government.
Now whether you are an anarcho-capitalist or a social-anarchist, you also have to agree that the base personal motivation for anyone who is an anarchist is self-interest. This is usually confused with the word “selfish” in common parlance, but is quite different (as most people should realize). Given that the driving force, on a personal level, for anarchy is self-interest, then my actions and the rebuttal for the accusations of my friend are easy to explain.
Self-Interest Means Taking the Easy Road
That inherent self-interest in the anarchist means that the anarchist is free (and likely to) take the easy road when the battle is not worth fighting.
For instance, if I’m at a social gathering and not interested (or in a good place or situation for) a deep discussion of political philosophy, why would I tell someone who asks that I’m an anarchist? For most people, this term brings up images of masked Molotov throwers at WTO meetings. Yet those same people, while they might think me cooky, won’t have nearly the same negative reaction to the term “libertarian.” It’s close enough for the situation, so that’s what I use.
As for avoiding our current political system (meaning taxes, bureaucrats, and elected officials), all I can say is: good luck to those who wish to do so. I’ve tried and the only realistic way to do it and have any modicum of prosperity is to live outside the law (hence engage in criminal activity) or live extremely dirt poor – as in caveman level poor. Neither of those appeals to me because the first means that eventually I’ll end up in prison and the second means way too much work just to survive.
Instead, I pay taxes when I can’t figure a way out of it, I work legally, drive on public roads, use public services, etc. I do not, however, vote, kow-tow to those in power, or encourage others to do either.
I am a Practical Anarchist.
It’s a pipe dream to believe that anyone can be purely anarchist in today’s world. We are all wards of the state on some level with our ownership of self being only a matter of degree compared to others.