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’.