I am an anarchist, or more specifically, an anarcho-communist. Most people are confused by this term, and for good reason: There isn’t any one definition of anarchism that’s universally accepted. The most commonly accepted definition among my own circles is anarchist philosopher Noam Chomsky’s definition, “a rejection of all unjust hierarchies.”
As a group, anarchists do not believe states should exist. That would mean no countries and no centralized governments. In an anarchist society, there would be no leaders. Decisions would be made through direct democracy. One common interpretation of this is anarcho-syndicalism, a term which might be familiar if you’ve ever seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The “syndicates” in this model would function like non-hierarchical labor unions, where policies are voted on by everybody in a particular industry who wants to participate. A lot of other anarchists reject this model because it distinguishes members from non-members, which they feel is unnecessary, and would itself become a hierarchy. The diversity of thought on how to model a society is part of what makes it so difficult to pin down what anarchism actually is.
I have talked about communism in previous articles, and I’ve always received what I believe were well-intentioned responses from people denouncing so-called “communist governments,” and I do want to make it clear that I don’t support any of these governments. Communism is about working toward a stateless, classless, moneyless society, and I consider Vladimir Lenin’s philosophy of using the state to achieve this goal to be counter-intuitive. To consider the state a necessary tool to abolish the state is to accept that states are actually good and efficient. I don’t think that’s the case, and I think history has shown that these states are incapable of achieving an actual communist society; they may call themselves communist, but they still have centralized governments. By definition, that is not communism. I believe that anarchism is necessary for any coherent communist ideology.
In an anarcho-communist society, everybody’s basic needs would be met by other members of their communities. People would have the freedom to work wherever they like, and a small minority of people would choose not to work at all, while most of us would find that unsatisfying after just a short while and feel compelled to work in comparatively easy jobs that would yield tangible results. Automation would allow most people who do work to meet the requirements of their communities by working just a few hours per day, and have an equal say in making decisions that affect them. There would be no billionaires, corporations or landlords. Nobody would be forced to starve or sleep outside or be denied necessary medical care.
I believe this is a vision worth working toward. It seems idealistic to many people, but there are plenty of examples of organizations that already structure themselves similarly around volunteer-based work, like Wikipedia and food pantries. The more support these organizations have, the more redundant their paid competitors will become, and the more free services people will be able to provide with the extra time and money they are able to save by utilizing these resources. With enough support, mutual aid networks can replace entire governments.
Naturally, people who have a great deal of power over others often hate the idea of losing that power, and anarchist groups are constantly met with opposition, including police violence and misinformation campaigns, sometimes in conjunction. It is common for non-hierarchical activist groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter to be blamed for responding to violence that is incited against them by oppositional powers and portrayed as violent extremists. The unfortunate reality is that peaceful attempts to bring systemic change will almost certainly eventually be met with violence by people who are mostly immune to the consequences of performing violence, including the police.
I encourage anyone interested in learning more about anarchism to check out Noam Chomsky, Pyotr Kropotkin, Youtuber Thought Slime, or the r/BreadTube subreddit for resources that go into far more detail than I can do here. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we all need to be especially skeptical of sources that generalize when talking about this very complex topic.