Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Labels, Schmabels

Well, I'd planned on updating this blog more often.  The problem is, life happens.  Is it too late to add another New Year's resolution?  If not, I resolve to make no more promises about how soon I'll do another blog posting, and instead just post as often as I can.  That will just have to suffice.


I received a message concerning my last post.  This was from an old friend of mine who's a self-described anarchist.  He basically said that my score on the political compass puts me square in the anarchist camp, and he shared the Wikipedia link for "anarchism without adjectives".

I don't dispute the anarchism label, mostly because I've read a few writings by anarchists, and I tend to agree with their sentiments and have even posted a few links to their articles in past blogs.  But there's a reason I don't embrace the anarchist label, and it's mostly because of the stigma of angry anarchist kids breaking windows of Starbucks and starting fires.  I realize that the stigma is bullshit, like pretty much any stigma.  It's incredibly unfair to label all anarchists as violent just because of the actions of a few (Jeffrey Dahmer was from Wisconsin, so does that mean everyone from Wisconsin is a child molesting, serial killing, necrophiliac cannibal?), and there's nothing inherently violent about an anti-state ideology (indeed, anarchists tend to see the state itself, with its military forces and police departments and prisons, as inherently violent).

But that doesn't change the fact that the "anarchism = violence" stigma is still there, and I'm about as non-violent as you can get.

Pretty much any label has a stigma attached to it, and this is why I try to avoid all labels.  I'm a writer, and while using labels can sometimes be useful, usually it's just a sign of lazy writing.  Also, as a writer I strive to reach the largest audience possible, while trying to stay true to my convictions, because I think I have a viewpoint worth sharing with others.  If I were to call myself an anarchist right off the bat--or most other labels, for that matter--I might alienate a big chunk of my potential audience.  So I just try to share my conclusions and how I reached them, and if those resemble anarchist ideas, so be it.

To a lesser extent, another reason I don't call myself an anarchist is because there's a whole anarchist community that I know very little about.  My anarchist friend is the only anarchist that I know personally, as far as I can tell.  So I'd feel like a bit of a poseur if I suddenly started referring to myself one.

I settled on identifying myself as "anti-authoritarian" because the root of all my viewpoints stem from the idea that I think no one should have power over someone else, and because I think it's a good starting point for dialog as it's something most people can agree with.  Nobody likes to be told what to do or how to live.  I realize that "anti-authoritarian" is a label, too, but I think it says more than "anarchist," and without so much of a stigma.

Of course, anyone who can't get past the anarchist stigma has probably made up their minds about me by the third paragraph and hasn't made it this far, so there you go.  And I'm probably now on some Department of Homeland Security list, if I wasn't already, even though I'm about as much of a security threat as a bowl of oatmeal.

Ah, jeez.  I've spent this whole blog so far talking about myself, and that wasn't supposed to be the point of this blog.  Let's see what others have to say...

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