One of the major problems that anarchists wrestle with is what James C. Scott terms “legibility” - that is, “the state's attempt..to arrange the population in ways that simplif[y] the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion”. For Scott, this attempt at simplification includes large-scale centrally planned projects like relocating peasants and developing the streets of Paris to prevent rioting as well as standardized measurements and the encouragement of crop systems that lend themselves more easily to being taxed. Through force, the state acts to shape society into something simpler and thus more easily catalogued and controlled. His argument follows that illegibility has acted in history as a barrier to state projects - crops that can be concealed in the ground and harvested irregularly, streets that aren’t easily mappable, and the lack of written records all impede state attempts at control.
Anarchists attempts at illegibility have taken a variety of forms - practices which are usually called security culture that counter the state’s attempt at preventing rebellion; disconnecting from platforms like Facebook and Google products that render us and our relationships more visible and mappable; resistance to identity politics that make people more easily classifiable by the state and capital; temporary, off-the-books projects, and more. Yet it’s also the case that most of us live in a context in which we have been made far more legible than any other point in history, mapped through social security numbers, social media posts, and consumption habits.
Is legibility a concern to you? How do you see it being resisted, effectively and ineffectively? Is it even avoidable, and to what extent?