Every year, I go to my parents’ old alma mater in central West Virginia. Outside McCuskey Hall, there’s a grove of enormous oak trees, casting shade on the grassy field. In the fall it is absolutely picturesque. Every year my dad tells me and my sister the same story. When he was in college in the late 80s, he would climb one of the oaks and string up a hammock in the branches. He spent most of his time in these trees with his friends, chatting and practicing dove-calls. But sometimes, he would haul his ham radio (amateur radio) into the branches and talk to kids across the campus or call my mother in the other dorm hall. All the while, he feared to break a major law by ordering a pizza.
Earlier this month, a UK government minister called for the institution of compulsory voting. According to Mirror.UK, it is a ploy to increase voter turnout, but it also seems to be politically motivated. The politicians pushing this policy (nearly all of who belong to the labor party) are highly concerned with low Brexit vote turnout. They speculate that if only voting numbers were up, they would have come out of the decision as victors. But with the seemingly endless Brexit debacle, a conversation about voting has been opening up in the UK. Should a civics exam be mandatory to vote? Is it okay to let felons vote? And famously, should voting be compulsory?
Josh Hughes | United States
Over the past few days, many French citizens have staged a countrywide protest over the heightened taxes that plague many of the country’s poor, as well as the national government’s disinterest in the lower and middle class. Over the course of three weeks, they have gotten the new gas tax suspended and have captured the attention of not only their own leaders and countrymen but of the world. That’s right: the movement has gone international, earning the name “European Spring”.
The protest has reached the ears and hearts of libertarians around the world. As of now, the future of the movement is uncertain, but their actions, solidarity, and results have been impressive, to say the least. If Americans were to follow their lead (just as the French followed the American Revolution with one of their own), many productive changes could occur.
Starting Like the Yellow Vests
One of the perks of the French protest is there were hundreds of thousands of reformists in one area with one common goal: to be seen and heard. The liberty movement in America is a mess with no clear goals or direction.
The Libertarian Party, from the local chapters up to the national organization, need to unite under one banner: change. Whether the change is social or fiscal does not matter; what’s important is that all levels are consistent. A federal legalization of marijuana, prison reform, and lowering of taxes are many popular places to begin, however.
How to Make the State Listen
The Yellow Vests found a great way for those in power to listen: refusal to be ignored. While the destruction of the property of others isn’t ideal (nor in line with libertarian beliefs), marching in large numbers is a good start. Marches on Washington and other state capitals demanding prison reform or drug legalization could do a lot in terms of encouraging change in America.
One major weakness among Americans is their lack of involvement in politics. Many that are knowledgeable neglect to put hands-on effort into the movement. Beginning the protests is the hardest part. Once there is momentum, more people will join in.
Why We Must Strike Now
The Yellow Vests have inspired a resistance in the world, against tyranny and oppression. Now is the time to take action. Now is the time for those who think they can extort us to hear our voices. The country and the world are moving towards authoritarianism at an alarming rate. If we cannot completely stop the government, it is the duty of the people to contain it. This occurs by holding them accountable and making sure they hear the voice of the people.
When all that’s in the media and culture is socialism or neoconservatism, that’s what we get. Libertarians, minarchists, anarcho-capitalists, and all those involved in the liberty movement need to be a part of this. In order to have results, there must be solidarity and unity.
If the people of the United States don’t make changes soon, the country is destined to fall even deeper into authoritarian tyranny. The Yellow Vests are leading the way by standing up for their individual needs and rights, refusing to let the government take advantage of them. It’s in the best interest of all liberty-loving Americans to fight for their rights. Do something today. Make a difference for good.
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Indri Schaelicke | United States
An original free-verse poem reflecting on the inhumanity of war, which the State often creates, inadvertently or otherwise.
On Friday, Teen Vogue author Kim Kelly ran a piece that she titled “Anarchy: What It Is and Why Pop Culture Loves It”. In it, she attempts to answer both of those questions. However, her perspective is nowhere near accurate. Frankly, it makes her look like she does not understand a thing about the general principles of anarchism. Here, unlike Kelly, from an actual teen, is a real representation of anarchy’s ideology of peace.
The Ideology Without an Ideology
Initially, Kelly correctly states that the media often believes that anarchy is a no-rules, middle-fingers-up attitude. But the second she begins explaining what is really is, the logic falls off of the block.
Her claim that “anarchism is a radical, revolutionary leftist political ideology…” is partly true. Yes, it is both radical and revolutionary, of course. Like any great threat to the state, it is a fringe group that proposes radical ideas for change. However, anarchism has absolutely no inherent association with the left or the right.
Ultimately, anarchism deals with the abolition of the state. Before it is left, right, or anything else, it is anti-state. Anarchists believe that the state inherently restricts the abilities of people to freely associate with each other. However, they are very much divided on whether they believe in a free market or voluntarily controlled economy.
Kelly points this out, later going through a list of various anarchist views of thought. Despite this, she only paints half of the picture, basically stating that anarcho-capitalism is a fringe ideology that most other anarchists do not recognize. While this is true, she forgets that all forms of anarchism are pretty fringe. Note that not a single major politician today identifies with any of the varying forms.
Moreover, she fails to state that anarcho-capitalists often do not consider anarcho-communists to be legitimate, due to their belief that communism, and the associated collectivism, are inherently at odds with the idea of freedom.
In the end, though, anarchism is not a political ideology. Without a state, politics does not exist. Individuals would merely associate freely with each other in the communities that they desired to live in.
What Anarchism Really Is
In her entire piece, Kelly does not once mention the most critical point of anarchism: it is a rejection of the initiation of violence. Whether that violence comes in the form of capitalism, regulations, war, taxation, or the police, (or all of the above) anarchists agree that the state is an aggressive institution that should not exist in a free society. All of them desire a society where they can live in peaceful freedom, and all recognize that the state is the biggest threat to that freedom.
The differences only come from the fact that each views the state slightly differently. Some anarchists believe it to be a form of capitalist greed, or elitist power, or military might. Others may find it to be an organization that steals inherently from the people to fund things like social safety nets.
Anarchists also inherently oppose war, believing that they are antithetical to freedom. Though opposing war has been a very key part of anarchism, dating back to the more radical members of Vietnam War protests, Kelly fails to point this out in any capacity. She instead focuses on an interesting term that has absolutely nothing to do with anarchy.
Anarchy is NOT Democracy
One of Kelly’s most prominent assertions is the idea that anarchy is a radical democracy. This simply could not be farther from the truth, and democracy is, in fact, impossible in an anarchist society.
When it comes down to it, the two terms are entirely incompatible. Democracy, of course, is a system where the people vote directly on laws and events. Notable examples include the ancient Greek state of Athens, famous for putting Socrates to death over his differing beliefs. Anarchism, on the other hand, removes all forms of coercive power. In such a system, no majority of people can simply decide to kill a man for being different, or corrupting the youth. But in a democracy, this is entirely possible, and, clearly, happened on a number of occasions. When it comes down to it, democracy is nothing more than the state’s tyranny of the majority. Anarchy, though, opposes coercive tyrannies of all forms, including democracy.
In short: democracy is a form of government. Anarchy is a lack of government. A government cannot exist in a society without government.
Antifascism and Anarchism
Following the flawed point on democracy, Kelly then claims that all anarchists are anti-fascist. Technically, this is not untrue but is essentially just a monotonous and repetitive talking point to garner more support. Fascism, again, like democracy, is a form of government. Kelly does not seem to realize that anarchism opposes all forms of governments, for if she did, she would not need to spend any additional time addressing particular forms. More strikingly, she would certainly not, as an opponent of the state, support a form of government.
It is also worth noting that antifascism does not necessarily imply support for Antifa groups. Though Kelly voices her support for them, she again only shows one side of things. Many anarchists, in fact, oppose Antifa just as much as they oppose fascism. As Antifa often supports violence, especially against those they claim to be fascist, peaceful anarchists tend to oppose them, as they do all forms of violence.
A Weak Definition From a Fake Anarchist
To summarize, it is not enough to be an enemy of the current state to be an anarchist. To fall under the definition, you need to oppose all forms of government and believe that governments are an inherently immoral institution.
Kelly does point this out in her piece, but at the same time, does not support her own ideas, and voices clear support for democracy, a coercive form of government. She also endorses Antifa, an organization that has behaved violently in the past, even though she claims to oppose the violence of the state. A clear supporter of both state and anti-state violence, her actions are in no way consistent with her words.
Kelly’s ideology proves to be very dangerous, and if the anarchist community ever wants to see ideologically sound success, they should steer very clear of it. Democracy is not anarchy, and violence is not anarchy. The very suggestion of such makes it quite obvious that Kelly either does not understand what anarchism is, or does, but is not an anarchist herself. In either situation, take her words with warning, as they are nothing more than violence and government action under the guise of radicalism.
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