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Does one have to be a perfect person to be an anarchist?

from Pensar en el margen via El Libertario, English translation by Anarchist News,

What is being anarchist?

by Laura Vicente

I would like to dismantle that idea that many people repeat that you cannot be an anarchist because that implies almost perfection in terms of the way of living and being. I am in favor of denying any transcendence to the term "anarchism" since it is the work of human beings. Anarchism is creation, or rather self-creation. The idealization of the term is always denied by reality since the human being is imperfect and contradictory.

It seems fitting to oppose that idea of ​​perfection that I reject for the sake of a human anarchism, with the term being consequential is better better than being coherent. I like the term consequential in the vein of Diana Torres[1] when she says: " I will be consequential, which is nothing more than taking responsibility for the consequences of my actions and my words and the beautiful contradictions that make them up."

Starting from this humanization of being an anarchist, let's see some opinions about what it is to be an anarchist.

I start with David Graeber[2] , who died unexpectedly three months ago (September 2) and who spoke of "lowercase anarchists" referring to those who were willing to collaborate in broad coalitions as long as they functioned on horizontal principles, giving relevance to his way of understanding anarchism as direct democracy.

He understood anarchism as a broad political sensibility. It is, he affirmed, a «political movement that aspires to generate an authentically free society, and that defines “free society” as one in which humans only establish relationships with each other that do not depend on the constant threat of violence in order to be put into practice.».

The Italian anarchist Amedeo Bertolo[3] understood anarchism as a cultural mutation that questions domination. Anarchists are mutants who tend to transmit their cultural anomaly (anomaly in relation to normality, that is, with the dominant model) and at the same time create environmental conditions favorable to that mutation, that is, to make that mutant quality generalized.

Another anarchist, Uri Gordon[4] considers that historical anarchism can inspire and give ideas but that the current anarchist movement differs in many ways from the vision of a hundred years ago and that indicates its way of understanding it:

1-The networks of collectives and affinity groups substitute syndicates and federations as a pattern of organization.

2-The movement's programs are broader: ecology, feminism, animal liberation are as important as the anti-militarist and worker struggles.

3-A greater emphasis is placed on prefigurative* direct action and cultural experimentation.

* (Anarchist concept that refers to the modes of organization and tactics carried out that accurately reflect the future of the society sought = What we want is already what we do).

4-The commitment to modernity and technological progress is no longer widely shared in anarchist circles.

These qualitative changes add to a kind of paradigm in anarchism that is currently quite heterodox and is founded on action and the purpose of winning.

And finally a woman, Emma Goldman[5] , who, referring to the Russian Revolution, stated that "(…) the triumph of the State means the defeat of the Revolution." And she asked: «What is progress if not the generalized adoption of the principles of freedom versus those of coercion?»

Freedom is the key, she used to say, it is the one that must veto tyranny and centralization in order to fight to transform the revolution into a reconsideration of all economic, social and cultural values.

Anarchism, therefore, has never been something finished and closed, but rather diverse and multifaceted. Helpful towards this is the adogmatic attitude, careful to avoid any theory that is rigid and systematic, together with the insistence on individual freedom of choice.

There are many ways of understanding anarchism that do not have to be contradictory, but they have caused important confrontations and divisions due to not understanding that diverse character and being able to collaborate and live together.

[1] Diana J. Torres (2017): Vomitorium. Ciudad de México, p. 26.

[2] David Graeber (2014): Somos el 99%. Una historia, una crisis, un movimiento. Madrid, Capitan Swing.

[3] Amedeo Bertilo (Antología) (2019): Anarquistas… ¡Y orgullosos de serlo! Barcelona, Fundación Salvador Seguí, pp. 353-354.

[4] Uri Gordon (2014): ANARCHY ALIVE! Políticas antiautoritarias de la práctica a la teoría. Madrid/La Laguna, LaMalatesta/Tierra de Fuego.

[5] Emma Goldman (2018): Mi desilusión en Rusia. Barcelona, El Viejo Topo.