The Archetype of ‘The Anarchist’

He stalks the streets in black. Shouting expletives at figures of ‘authority’ whilst throwing any object he can find, he joins in with others just like him, marching down the stinking streets of the town or city he lives in. Others look on in a mixture of fear and confusion as this swathe of black-clad screaming youths attack a police line.

‘The anarchist’ in the ‘public mind’ is understood to be a rowdy, unwieldy, nihilistic youth who, so angry and discontented with the world as it is, that he lashes out in all directions. This vision of ‘the anarchist’ has been expressed all the way from the ‘bomb throwers’ of the 19th Century, right up to the ‘anarcho-punks’ of the 1970s onwards. There is of course a great deal of truth behind this archetype – there seems to be a large amount of individuals who tear down high streets across the world, inflicting carnage upon everyday proceedings that are referred to by the mainstream media as ‘anarchists’ (and more often than not, are happy to refer to themselves as such).

This is of course, for the most part, nothing more than a copying mechanism, plain and simple. A kind of ego-submerging, mass essentialist association with the symbols and actions expected of ‘the anarchist’. There is a ‘reflexivity’ between the archetypal ideal of ‘the anarchist’ and the archetype-confirming actions of the individual who wishes to be known as an ‘anarchist’.  In many ways, most of these people are little different to black-shirted ‘fascists’ or red-shirted ‘communists’ who march down streets blaring out their discontent and demanding change. Whilst ‘the anarchists’ may look far more dishevelled and outwardly disorderly (compared to the followers of ideologies that explicitly speak of maintaining ‘order’), there is an ‘order’ to their appearances and actions; an ‘orderly disorder’ if you will – a mere representation. Indeed, there is an expected ‘style’ that can be traced back to the punks of the 1970s that can still be seen to this day. This is a sign of not only an acceptance of the ‘public mind’ imagery of ‘the anarchist’ by so many self-described ‘anarchists’ but also a wilful attempt to adhere to it as much as possible. Ultimately, this amounts to the majority of the supposed proclaimers of autonomy supporting a heteronomously-generated ‘style’.

It is of course in the interests of the agents of heteronomy to push this violent and self-destructive idea of ‘the anarchist’ further and further. Indeed, it has been successfully cemented into the mindsets of countless people throughout the world. Mention the word ‘anarchy’ and ‘anarchism’ to most people and the visions of feral youth described above will come to mind. This is an example of the concept of the ‘power word’ (which I discussed in a previous post). Thus, ‘anarchism’ is crossed out in the minds of so many before a reasoned discussion has even begun, because of the archetype-confirming actions of these ‘anarchists’.

It is also in the interests of the mass-marketers to support the archetype and imagery of ‘the anarchist’, for marketing purposes. The mere representation offers a form of third-party, manufactured ‘identity’ that opens up consumer markets for disaffected youths.

Further, the idea of ‘the anarchist’ allows most people to be comfortable in their discomfort when speaking of ‘the anarchist’. By endorsing ‘the anarchist’ archetype the average critic need not understand the actual philosophical values of anarchist, mutualist and voluntarist thinkers, but rather may comfortably think he has ‘conquered’ the idea by easily classifying all of these people under ‘the anarchist’ archetype.

If you long for a paradigm change – for the ideas of voluntary association to become mainstream, for the absolute end of heteronomous control, and for the realisation of true freedom and autonomy in your life – then you must realise that the actions of these third-party and self-proclaimed ‘anarchists’ are a greater threat to that change than any ‘state’.

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6 Responses to The Archetype of ‘The Anarchist’

  1. myrthryn says:

    Great post as always. I never considered myself as an anarchist until I listened to some talks by Stefan Molyneux. It was then that the facade of society’s stereotype fell away. Anarchy is and should be peaceful, anything else serves the current paradigm.

  2. Abandon TV says:

    +1 about Stefan Molyneux 🙂

    The stereotypical balaclava wearing, anti social, disaffected shop window smashing ‘anarchist’ should rightfully be regarded as a product of statism. At the very least we can say they are a product of government education.

    Rebelling against your authoritarian and abusive parents by slamming doors, smashing vases and staying out late is not the same as calmly moving out of your parents’ house, finding your own place to live and living a self sufficient, responsible life.

    Anarchy, in this sense, is just about being a grown up.

    • Texaco Joe says:

      I wouldn’t be so quick to demonize the window smashing types as “a product of statism”. The reaction of destroying property is a far cry from the thrones of people stuck in wage slavery by greedy capitalists and those destroyed by war purported by the state to satiate the interests of said capitalists by the state.

      I would recommend reading At Daggers Drawn

      We cannot speak of freedom until all forces of coercion have been lifted from us. The Government and capitalists refuse to let us live in peace, we have the right to defend ourselves and build a better world.

      • Abandon TV says:

        As long as there is a coercive and violent government there can be no true capitalism because there can be no free market.

        The difference between smashing shop windows and smashing a neighbouring country is in the size/ wealth of the aggressors, but not their mindset. Violence and destruction is violence and destruction.

    • Texaco Joe says:

      Your metaphor of the parent’s house isn’t accurate for a few reasons.

      1. The state will not allow you to simply “move out”. You will always be subjected to taxes (theft) and whatever draconian laws the majority chooses to enforce on you.

      2. In abusive houses, which thankfully I’ve had the displeasure of being subject to, staying quiet usually keeps the abuse to a minimum. Within a state it gets worse without protests (which include property damage)

      As they say in Oakland, “Don’t like the way I protest? Protest another way!”

      The couch potatoes and critics will never start their own Food Not Bombs chapter or Anarchist Black Cross. Why should you care about the popular opinion of consumers who like to talk but struggle to walk. Fuck em.

      • Abandon TV says:

        1. True. My analogy was really focused on the mindset of the individual / society. The mindset of getting angry at your parents and feeling offended by their oppression is the mindset of the voter (who will plead with his abusive parents), it’s also the mindset of the protestor (who will slam doors and shout at them for being so unfair).

        In all cases this mindset places the parents/ government above them.

        The mindset of solving the problem by moving out and living independently of your abusive parents is applicable this statist society because with that mindset you are no longer concerned with changing government or even overthrowing government (as all voters and protestors are). Instead the goal is simply to recognise and acknowledge what government really is (a violent and coercive gang of bullies and abusers), and then to live as free from government interference as possible while speaking your truth ……. and then just let the system die out naturally as more and more people wake up to that truth. This is how every social injustice and backward superstition has died out (or is currently dying out) from slavery to religion to animal cruelty to caning children.

        Government’s strength comes from the fact that it is generally considered moral, or at least acceptable and necessary by the general population. Whether you are passively voting or violently protesting you are still placing government as your moral equal – and you are actually lowering yourself to their level either by condoning government (voting) or doing battle with it as an enemy using the government’s own strategy of violence and intimidation to affect change (protesting). Both voting and protesting is to play the government at their own game. And they will always win if you play them at their ow game.

        The third option is to play a different game which they can’t ever win. In this game you take the moral high ground and live your life acknowledging that government are terrorists by definition. We all grow up understanding that one does not associate with terrorists, or bargain with them, or try to terrorise them back, or try to vote for new terrorist leaders offering to bring ‘change’……. one simply exposes them as being evil while refusing to associate with them to the point of ostracising them from society. The schoolyard bully’s worst nightmare is to be ignored and ostracised by everyone.

        When enough people break through the propaganda and begin to see government for what it really is (a terrorist organisation, a mafia etc) government will go the way of African slavery or child miners or women as chattel. This is the equivalent of ‘moving out of your abusive parents house’ in my analogy. Society will no longer care for government and they will find new peaceful, non coercive ways to organise society – much like how most of society already organises itself in the day-to-day world of peaceful contracts and voluntary transaction (both business and personal). When this kind of behaviour has replaced government altogether we can finally call ourselves proper, responsible, self reliant grown ups who have ‘moved out’ of our abuser’s house 🙂

        2. “…In abusive houses, which thankfully I’ve had the displeasure of being subject to, staying quiet usually keeps the abuse to a minimum. Within a state it gets worse without protests (which include property damage)…”

        As I mentioned above governments rely on the majority of the population mistaking government as a moral and necessary agency. Governments control education and that is how they indoctrinate us to see them as a force for good, rather than as a mafia or terrorists (which is how their actions define them). Perhaps in the past protests and rallies were the only way for people to make their voices heard and attempt to break this manufactured consensus (propaganda) about governments being good.

        But these days we have the internet.

        And at the same time the government has sonic and microwave crowd control weapons, tasers, drones and the largest police and military forces in human history. These days protesting reaches far FEWER people than a well made youtube documentary can. And a well made youtube video can communicate complex information far more effectively than writing short slogans on cardboard banners or group chanting can. And smashing shop windows only makes you look worse than government (and incapable of peacefully organising your own society).

        Governments (and those who control them) WANT the people to rise up in protest. That is why they are so busy trying to make protesting look fashionable.

        But of course real world human interaction is a wonderful and powerful thing. We shouldn’t spend all our time on the internet. But why must all gatherings be ‘anti’ this or that? Why not start organising peaceful non protesting gatherings which promote a new free society without government. It is more effective (and fun) to open up a health food restaurant next door to MacDonalds than it is to protest outside MacDonalds every day with a banner saying “MacDonalds food is bad for you!”

        What governments fear the most is for the general population to start recognising the fact that the government is a terrorist organisation (by definition) and to then start taking the moral high ground.

        The government can’t wriggle out of that position because the government is supposed to condemn terrorism – it’s been telling us for years how evil terrorism is. A government is (by definition) a monopoly on the legal right to initiate force/ violence against the population to achieve its aims. Everything the government does (from laws to wars) is based on initiating violence. If the population start taking the moral high ground and pointing the government out as terrorists all the government can do is admit defeat or fight back with force/ violence. Either way they have confirmed that they ARE terrorists/ mafia/ bullies/ abusers/ criminals and as a result the population (including the police and military) will inevitably start to withdraw support for them. Check mate.

        Protesting will only justify the police state even faster and make you look like the bad guys in the eyes of the general (TV watching) population.

        “…Why should you care about the popular opinion of consumers who like to talk but struggle to walk….’

        Because they are the ones holding government together. Once popular opinion is no longer supporting government (or at least once they are questioning government’s supposed moral principles) government stops being a giant and becomes a mouse (OK then, a rat)

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