Changing my mind

2 Nov

There have a been a few times in my life when I’ve had large shifts in my position on various ideas and ideologies. I remember back in 11th grade AP US history reading about atheists in the context of their attempts to remove “under God” from the pledge and thinking how silly and stupid they sounded. I was a Christian at the time, but starting to have trouble with my faith. Slowly I was moving into Buddhism and I comforted myself by thinking “well at least I’m not an atheist.”

I remember doing the same thing with politics. The earliest political memory I have is from 2000, sitting on my mom’s bed late at night watching the election results of Bush v Gore, and rooting for Bush to win. Everyone around me wanted Bush to win, and I remember seeing some political cartoon about how Gore sounded like a robot. That was enough for me at the time.”

Later, as I started to begin my slow but steady drift left I remember defending myself to other people by attacking anarchists. I guess I wanted to appear still mainstream by calling out a group of people with a position I perceived as more radical than my own.

“I could never be an anarchist, that’s just ridiculous. You need order and government.”

Of course at the time I was attacking anarchists I was doing so without knowing anything about them except what was common societal knowledge on them; namely that they were violent punk teenagers that threw bricks through store windows and wanted absolute chaos.

I knew nothing about anarchists. I feel a lot of people make judgements on a groups based off of this type of common societal knowledge, aka ignorance.

Now that I’ve been reading anarchist essays I see myself starting to change. I’m at a crossroads in my life right now. I’m on the verge of making large, life changing commitments like moving to another country and lately I’ve been feeling a little lost and overwhelmed.

I’ve been struggling with what I want to do with my life, unsure if my current plan is really what I want. To be honest, I’m still not entirely certain what I would like to do in life. I’m afraid of walking away from something good, but I’m  know I can’t stay still.

In the midst of all this I’m also struggling to define myself and the society I exist in. Developing and solidifying a new concept of society is important because it’s the framework for how I examine and adjust my life priorities.

Anarchism has been very attractive because it provides the framework for I’ve been looking for. I’m finding many of the ideas very compelling and satisfying, even if I’m not overly sure of the practicality.

In an effort to be intellectually honest I’m trying to approach the ideas I’m finding in anarchism with skepticism. I want them to try and convince me, though I will admit, I am eager to be convinced.

Far from the brick throwing chaos punks of my previous understanding, I’m finding anarchism to be a life affirming philosophy focused on building healthy and beneficial relationships between individuals and society.

The wonderful thing is that there is just a wide variety of anarchist philosophy to explore. For example, there’s mutualism, anarco-collectivism, anarco-capitalism, anarcho-syndicalism,  anarcho-primitivism, and anarco-feminism, just to name a few.

I’m in the process of listening to arguments from all the various subsets and trying to decide which align the most with my views on reality. So far, the one underlying principle I’ve identified is simply “Coercing another individual into doing something they would not freely do is wrong.” From this everything follows. This principle informs how anarchists look at governments, laws, violence, sex, employment, etc. It’s really quite fascinating. Just about every aspect of life and interaction is affected by this axiom.

I’ve been viewing this experience, of changing my mind, a bit in the third person. I’m aware that it’s happening and I just find it really interesting to watch, even as I’m actively participating in it.

3 Responses to “Changing my mind”

  1. James Smith November 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Some of what you are learning sounds like part of the Libertarian approach too. The are opposed to the military draft, for example, because they deem it to be “involuntary servitude.”

    I wonder if you might be in the process of forming your own ideas by taking something from different groups.

    I was once told, as a joke I think, that put in a room equally divided between Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians, I would soon have all of them angry at me. Even as a joke, I had to admit it was at least partially true. 😀

  2. Jeffrey Barke November 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Are you familiar with the Anarchist Archives (http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/) maintained by Prof. Dana Ward? Biographies, bibliographies and texts are available on Bakunin, Godwin, Goldman, Proudhon, Bookchin and more.

    Prof. Ward also has syllabi available online at http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/syllabi.html.

    • godlesspaladin November 17, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      Yeah, but I had completely forgotten about it. Thanks!

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